Wiley took to the stage of The Brickworks to mark his return to the music industry, teasing us with his much anticipated new album ‘The Godfather II’. Even at the age of 39 with a career lasting over 10 years, his performance at The Brickworks showed he hasn’t lost his touch, with his music still being loved today.
After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting around inside the venue, the first support act Ms Banks gave a start to the level of high energy that followed. Her South London roots brought a fresh and exciting vibe into an already hyped atmosphere.
“She dominated the stage with her powerful vocals”
The highlight of Ms Banks’ performance was showcasing her new track ‘OMG’ which surprisingly, many of the audience members knew. The lighting was simple and not too bright, meaning her performance was clear, emphasising how well she dominated the stage with her powerful vocals.
Much credit has to be given to her, as she managed to dance, rap and also calm down a very intoxicated crowd. Her words “Girls we can’t be fighting, we’re in a sisterhood” were aimed directly at two women having a fight at the end of her performance.
Although Ms Banks’ rapping was often drowned out by a backing track way too loud, it is clear that her talent is something grime enthusiasts should look out for in the future. After being rumoured to be Niki Minaj’s new favourite rapper, I predict she’s en route to something very big and successful.
“The atmosphere and the crowd made the overall experience a disaster”
After another 30-minute break, Wiley finally stepped on stage, and was welcomed by the loud chants of a very excited audience. Personally, although The Brickworks was a venue highly suited for a grime-gig, the atmosphere and the crowd made the overall experience a disaster. With most of the crowd moshing, under the influence and fighting, along with the fact I am only 5ft 2, meant that I was pushed to the back, having to experience the gig seeing very little.
“Wiley’s performance cannot be faulted”
Despite this, Wiley’s performance cannot be faulted. The simple backdrop and strobe lights matched his high energy and persistence to interact with the audience. He kicked off the gig with ‘Been a While,’ his latest song pre-released before his new album ‘The Godfather II’ coming out March 2nd.
Although Wiley was eager to show off his new music, being a big hit amongst the audience, I couldn’t help notice that he got the most attention when performing his old tracks ‘Heatwave’ and ‘Wearing my Rolex’ dating back to 2008 – 2013. The remix of the songs brought a nostalgic vibe into the venue, with the most dedicated audience members like myself taking a moment to reminisce with Wiley’s original music when he first kicked off his music career.
The gig was fairly unbalanced, with few recent songs such as ‘Back with a Banger’ from his last album ‘The Godfather’ which was released in 2017. Apart from this, Wiley’s focus on his earlier tracks made me feel that although his talent is still strong, his newer music is losing its popularity compared to what he achieved in the past, as these were the songs the majority of the audience rapped along to.
“The audience began to get restless, longing for the return of Wiley”
Taking a short break, Wiley left the stage unannounced, whilst another support act joined the stage in an attempt to at least continue the high energy in the venue. However, with many people including myself, not hearing his introduction, and witnessing what looked like lip-syncing over his backing track, the audience began to get restless, longing for the return of Wiley.
Although the audience were soon back to their excited selves upon Wiley’s return, it soon died down yet again after he announced he only had 10 minutes’ left before the gig will end. For me, this was very disappointing, as Wiley’s stage time was perhaps just a little over an hour, with most of the gig being dominated by the combined times of the support acts along with Wiley’s short breaks.
This was an experience I will not be forgetting anytime soon, but deciphering whether this is because of Wiley’s servings of both fresh music and nostalgia, or his short-lived presence on stage in a scary and quite over-whelming atmosphere, is difficult.
Images Courtesy of Emma Heasman